My Grand Daughter Rosie was born the day before my birthday this year. She’s beautiful, healthy, and the light of our lives.
Last evening while preparing a feast for friends and family, the rooster came to the front of the house, right at dusk, and pecked the door. This caused mayhem in the dogs, who thought it was someone knocking on the door. We were expecting company, after all. But the peck was unexpected, and kinda weird. I went out to see why my big old handsome rooster wasn’t headed to the coop with his girls. I tried herding him, but he wouldn’t go. He finally evaded me completely so I went back into the house for a flashlight. A quick look in the coop revealed only half of my chickens were on the roost. I went back around the house and found the rooster sitting on the snow shovel on the trailer, a hen on the water containers behind the house, and another in the doghouse. “Note to self: Don’t put the dogs in the pen!” I couldn’t reach the one in the dog house so I shut the gate and hoped a weasel wouldn’t discover her before morning. I herded the other hen and the rooster back to the coop, where the others waited waited silently. It was rather eery and unsettling to know there were at least three missing, and with company coming any minute, I wouldn’t have much time to look for them. My husband and daughter and the dogs all came out with me to hunt in the dark, but we found nothing. Our guests finally arrived, so we gave up and went ahead with our evening.
This morning I heard the hen in the doghouse calling for her friends, so I went out earlier than usual to feed and let the chickens out. I counted 10 outside, 11 total, with the dark hen, who was always so aggressive with all the rest of the hens, but is now the “picked on” and at the end of the pecking order, staying on the roost in the henhouse, as if she was afraid of going out into the daylight. They were all very quiet, looking up and around and making that sound they make when they are listening, a sort of question mark of a sound, that made the hair on my neck raise up. Some things are so primal you can’t miss the meaning. They were bothered and not their usual rowdy selves around the feeding pans. In fact, they barely ate any thing, and instead went around the corner of the house, past the watering station under the spigot, and into the front yard where they milled around uneasily. I stayed out with them for quite awhile until I got chilled and decided to start a fire and make coffee. After the water was hot and poured over the fresh grounds, I went back outside with a tobacco offering. “Please be satisfied with three hens and no more.”, I said to the hillside above the house and to the fox I know lives above us in the green spaces along the spring. I included any coyotes that may have survived the last holocaust of coyote kind in the valley.
I pray I am heard, that I am not forced to take any further action, and that the chickens will prosper after this thinning of the flock.
May all beings be well fed.
As the Moon wanes away from fullness I find myself altered from the intensity of experiences throughout the summer season. And, now, in the Falling of the year, I am becoming new. New and formless, grounded in the rigor of change. The idea of letting go of the side of the river and plunging in, letting go into the flow, letting go of expectation as completely as is possible for me at this time in my life. I am going to be a grandmother, while inside myself there is still a child, sometimes teenager of 17, looking out from behind my blue eyes. Once in awhile I manage to enter the heart of who I truly am, amidst the chaos of my intellect. This happens most often under the trees, in the woods, and beside the river. I can be a stone in the sun if I want to be. or a human being complete with gathering storms of questions and pervasive disappointments. This summer, in a lucid and willing moment, I discovered I see humans as alien beings in the world, most without awareness of the impact they are having not only on others in range of influence, but also not aware of the effect their thinking and behaving is having upon their own flesh. In my practice of helping others, it is the AHA! I hope for each time I work with someone. I hold the vision for my own awakening, as well. So many paths for each of us to follow, especially the ones we discover on our own.
As I drive around the county I am struck by the current number of political signs. There are hardly any where I am, and mostly are for the neo-conservative candidates. After watching Monday night football with my husband at a local bar and grill for the first time in nearly a decade, I can understand something about the mindset of many Americans who think electing a Mormon with money into the White House is a great idea. And while I see that President Obama has accomplished much more than the neo-cons give him credit for, he is still a man with a mission that doesn’t quite match my own vision for the world. I give him credit for making some strides under the circumstances, but when you sleep with dogs you usually come away with a fleas.
Where are the leaders we need to help this country grow out of adolescence, I wonder? Where is all that American “Exceptionalism”? I’m not so impressed with us, to be honest.
As I face my grey haired self in the mirror each morning, I see the leader is actually me, and the many more women, and the men that love them, are out there that are looking like me, slightly rounder around the middle maybe. I just spend a fair amount of time, wrestling as it were, with the truth of myself while moving rocks or firewood or lugging water around in the hose to keep the trees and medicinals alive, and the dogs and chickens watered. We are tending to the home fires and educating the next generations in the ways we pray will leave a suitable world behind. I will make fewer trips to town so that there will be clean air to breathe after I am gone. I hope you are doing the same thing. Saving the planet by living with less. It’s really pretty easy to do, if you set your intention to do it. The new paradigm goes beyond recycling cans and bottles. It means living a life without much of what every CEO in this country wants you to buy. Which brings me to the question: Why aren’t we building something instead of buying something?? Supply this!, demand that! mentalities are getting pretty out of vogue with anyone who cares what future lies ahead for children in the world.
I picked peaches to can this year. The orchardist told me this story: “Today I will drive this truck full of North Fork peaches to Palisade where they will magically become Palisade peaches. They will load the peaches on semi truck to Denver, where at the re-distribution center they are tallied, bar coded. repackaged, then they board another semi truck back to Grand Junction, and then back into Delta county to be sold at Safeway and City Market” We marvel at how our peaches had traveled nearly a thousand miles, yet were grown within 30 miles of where we live. Insane, isn’t it?
So, while I make my way back to the Full Moon, the peak of Harvest, let me invoke the vision of a world that knows what balance looks like and achieves it on a regular basis. I will harvest close to home and celebrate the farmers and teachers and ranchers, and store clerks, and nurses, and care givers and hail my community members with respect, and awe and gratitude when I encounter them. Life and balance are about the WE-ness of it all, isn’t that true? “Being the change” is quite easy and wonderful and is only a breathe away from the suffering I engage in when I listen to too much fear mongering. Especially my OWN fear mongering. I know you know what I am taking about.
As the moon wanes and the tides shift and turn in our lives, let’s embrace our inner harvest of new awareness, along with the bounty of tomatoes and cucumbers, spuds and onions.
It’s raining a cooling and soaking rain that washes the sages and trees into freshness. The smell of sap is also in the air. The downward turn of energies is upon us. I love Autumn. I lit the first fire in the stove today, complete with copal resin to send a message to the hillside and the rain clouds pressing against the mountain beyond. I’m grateful for the changes in my life, even the dust of the objects and old ideas I am moving out of my life. This is a time of going deeper within, closer to the fire, removing the excess in favor of simplicity, and order.
Hail, Autumn. Bless our passionate efforts with rest and a sigh of relief, and the grace of falling away from what is finished. A deep seat and a cup of tea will be celebration enough.
Willie has been gone for days. I knew when we moved here 6 years ago his chances of being killed by coyotes were increased. He had already survived 12 years living in town with night roaming dogs and I have spent many hundreds of dollars saving him from punctures from feral cats. It’s a rough life being a cat sometimes. So, he’s about 18 years old and has eaten lots of wonderful fish and cat food, and had a health plan more secure than my own. He had a thin winter last season, but came through in better shape with all the fresh fish and canned cat food.
I miss him. He was the guardian of the garage, where all the grain is kept for the chickens, and the host of other amazing things two middle aged people keep in storage. He kept me company in the morning with my coffee and deigned to sit in my lap when I wore a sweater. Willie was a very swift hunter and often left me little lizards bottoms, looking like a pair of pants on the doorstep. He was hell on grasshoppers until the chickens came and wiped them all out. He never missed a mouse, that I know of.
He was not to be trifled with, either. Do not mistake him for a house cat, by no means. He would hook you, with keen precision, snagging just the first layer of skin on your hand with one claw, sharpened several times daily. He managed to sneak in the house a few times and hone them on my husband’s leather couch, which won neither he or I any favor with the man of the house.
Willie was a loner, and independent and could abide no other cats. He barely tolerated a couple of strays while we were in town that I fed for several years. He made sure they didn’t get into his garage guarding duties. Out here in the country he was a force to contend with. I felt he had a pretty good chance here, and he did well for 6 years.
Now, he has been missing for several days, and we have many coyote families around the valley. There are plenty of hunting opportunities here and the ranchers are determined that no coyote is going to harvest any of THEIR stock. I can see their point, and yet I have a contention with the methods they imply.
I have to listen on a fairly regular basis, and as I did this morning for three hours in the wee hours before dawn, to the sounds of three individual coyotes, likely a whole litter of young dogs, while they cried out in agony as poison took its toll. For a long time I thought they were being trapped, but after many hours of listening, I have determined they are baited to poison, and sometimes shot, if they can be spotted during daylight. Personally, I think poison is a cowards device. To die that prolonged and painful death when there are immediate and effective measures seems the most vile and inhumane thing to employ.
If they must die, then let it be quickly.
Today I am lighting a candle for Willie, my beloved feline companion of 18 years, and for the coyote family that could possibly have been his demise. I will celebrate the balance of life and death in this season of Equinox, and count myself blessed for many reasons.
To the Coyotes and Cats in the circles of life.
He’s gone missing. It’s not like him to be gone for days at a time. I knew when we moved here that he would some day disappear. Too many factors to consider. He has survived all the feral cat attacks, and the coyotes and coons, until now. He hasn’t been home in three days. I don’t feel him anywhere. It’s sad. And yet, that cat had the best of everything, and always a vet when he needed one, and his own garage to patrol at night, and a very full life at about 17 years. He was pretty sassy and held his own with the dogs, who would bounce him occasionally. He gave ’em a snag her and there. Taught my daughter’s dog about cats by sinking his claws deep into her nose the first time she tried to mess with him. She backed off and shook her head, her eyes watering. Cats are sharp.
I loved this cat. He was a classic tiger cat, independent as could be. We had an arrangement. I fed him, rescued him when necessary, and he kept the mice to a minimum. He was also known to leave the pants section of a lizard here and there. A snack for me, I suppose. He would come into the house on cold nights in the winter and sleep curled up by the fire, a yawn and stretch in the morning and back to work. He was quick and rarely missed his target. He was impressive. I miss him. I doubt I will ever know what has happened to him. He was getting a bit blind and he got pretty skinny last winter, despite the canned food and fish he enjoyed on his perch in the garage. William. Will for short. The little Wm. on his head etched in cat stripes. He would scratch you in a heartbeat if you messed with him. You would ways want to know where that clawed right foot was when you rubbed him the wrong way. He was very discriminating when he snagged you, too. Just letting you know he knew exactly how to put that hook into the top of your hand. Look you right in the eye as he did it, too. He was in charge of the relationship from the beginning. Liked my lap on a cold morning in the yard with a cup of coffee. Scratched the leather sofa a few times when I wasn’t looking, and got me in trouble with my husband, who is allergic to cats. Or so he says. I’ve seen him pet the rowdy cat, and put him out without ceremony once in awhile when Wm. got in the house without permission. Ed was fearless handling him. I had learned the hard way about picking him up when he was bent on that piece of fish skin in the dogs bowl. Cats are fast, and sharp.
Sure going to miss him. Thanks for gracing my life, Willie Kitty.